Drinking Alcohol Daily and Without Meals Is Associated with Increased Risk of Hypertension, UB Study Finds

By Lois Baker

Release Date: June 13, 2001

TORONTO -- If you are a drinker, when and in what situations you drink may affect your blood pressure, findings of a University at Buffalo study presented here today (June 13, 2001) at the Society for Epidemiology Research have shown.

Tiejian Wu, Ph.D., research assistant professor in the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, has found that men and women who drink daily and those who drink outside of mealtime have a higher prevalence of hypertension than persons with other, different drinking patterns.

Wu measured blood pressure and collected information on alcohol consumption from a randomly selected study population of 1,057 men and 1,422 women in Western New York. Hypertension was defined as having a systolic pressure (the first number in a blood pressure reading) of 140 or higher, and diastolic pressure, the second number, of 90 or higher. Any person receiving medication for high blood pressure was also placed in the hypertension category.

Study participants also were grouped for analysis by how often they drank -- never or not in the past year (abstainers); during the past month; recently but not every day, and daily -- and by whether they drank only with or only without meals or a mixture of both.

Analyzing blood pressure readings along with drinking-pattern information showed that the prevalence of high blood pressure was highest among the daily drinkers -- 39.3 percent -- compared to 29.7 percent for abstainers and 30.9 percent for those who didn't drink during the past month and 26.3 percent for non-daily drinkers.

Of those who drank only outside of meals, 35 percent had high blood pressure compared to 25.3 percent for people who drank with meals. Nearly 30 percent of the people in the "mixed" category were hypertensive.

When Wu considered only people who had consumed alcohol during the past month and took the amount consumed into account, there was little difference between daily and non-daily drinkers in the prevalence of hypertension, he said. However, the difference remained significant

between those who drank with and without meals. The findings held for both men and women, he noted.

Maurizio Trevisan, M.D., professor and chair of the UB Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, also took part in this research.

The study was conducted as part of the activities of the Center for Clinical and Medical Epidemiology of Alcohol at UB, established by a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.